Aug 14, 2013
Thanks to new NCAA rules, women's basketball teams around the country were able to conduct team practices this summer, including the 2013-14 Minnesota women's basketball team. At the conclusion of the Gophers' summer camp, Gophersports.com caught up with head coach Pam Borton to get her thoughts on camp, her team's overall fitness, individual Gophers and also talked about what else she has been up to over the summer.
Women’s basketball was allowed to hold team practices during the summer for the first time this year. How productive do you think it was for the Gophers?
“I thought summer camp went really well. I think that as a coaching staff we made it completely different than our normal practices during the regular season and we made it different from individual workouts. Our goal going into the summer was to keep things fresh. We didn’t want to wear the players down, so we wanted to be creative and keep things fun. Although I think it was very different from the way practice is going to be, I thought it was fun for the players.”
Do you think that having the team together during the summer will be beneficial in the long run?
“I think it will. I think it was good both for the players and for the coaches. I think it helped the coaches to see what we have going into the fall as far as combinations, who is playing well and what we are capable of doing this year. It gave us a bit of a head start and some foresight into the season. I think the players have definitely gotten better, they’re more fit and in better shape than before. The players are where they need to be at this point in the year.”
What are your thoughts on the team’s overall fitness at the conclusion of camp?
Can you give fans your thoughts on each of the players heading into the fall?
“Amanda (Zahui B.) lost 20 pounds since she’s been here and Jackie (Johnson) has gained 25 to 30. Kayla (Hirt) also lost 12 pounds and her mobility is a lot better. Everybody’s bodies needed something different, each player had something different to accomplish and they came back better than expected. They’re taking this team as their own and the team is in great shape.”
…On Sari Noga
“The first thing I think about when I think of Sari is leader. She is one of the captains this year and she is the glue to our team. Her maturity level is off the charts. She is always the one to make the right decisions and the one that everyone goes to for advice. She’s really grown into her leadership abilities. She’s my go-to person as well and she’s keeping everything together. She has such an important role on this team.”
…On Micaëlla Riché
“Micaëlla has come a long way. As a senior now, we’re really looking for a good year from her. I think she’s had a great summer; she’s very fit and has worked a lot on her perimeter shots. She’s in a great spot.”
…On Rachel Banham
“Rachel had her knee surgeries and has had an outstanding summer with the athletic trainers and strength and conditioning staff. I think her conditioning and discipline has allowed her to get ready and come back in great shape. She’s gotten stronger, and hopefully we’ve fixed some of the pain level in her knees. I’m very excited to have Rachel play pain-free this year.”
…On Kayla Hirt
"Kayla has really committed herself to getting more fit and has cut a lot of time off of her timed mile. She’s become a lot quicker on the floor. She’s definitely moving in the right direction. With her missing two years and her struggles with ACL tears in both knees, she’s in a really good place to take another step forward this year.”
…On Mikayla Bailey
“Mikayla has also had a really great summer. Getting sick last season and losing a lot of her freshman year hasn’t kept her from reaching a good place this year. I think she ended summer practices on a very positive note. She had a couple of her best practices at the very end of the summer. We saw her playing at the level she was before she got sick. We saw that in the last few practices and that was exciting.”
…On Shayne Mullaney
“Shayne is steady. I’m excited to see what she will do with her experience from last year. We always know what we will get from Shayne. She’s going to bring a lot of leadership and consistency on both ends of the floor. We can’t look at her as an underclassman this year and I’m excited for her to take another step forward as well.”
…On Jackie Johnson
“Jackie has made tremendous progress in no time. Coaches would think a player getting stronger and ready for Big Ten play would take about two years and she’s done it in a year. I’m excited for Jackie. I think she does a lot of thing extremely well. We saw some really good things out of her from practice this summer. She’s really going to help us if she continues to keep getting better.”
…On Amanda Zahui B.
“I’m very excited about Amanda. I think she’s in great shape and she brings a lot of skill to our team. She’s a great post passer and she knows a lot about the game. She has a high IQ. We haven’t had a post that can pass as well as she can since Janel McCarville. She can pass, she can communicate and move off the ball. She’s a European player so she knows how to play the game. She’s a great kid and a natural leader. She’s everything and then some, and more than I expected when we recruited her.”
…On Joanna Hedstrom
“I think her and the other Stabresa (McDaniel) were thrown into the fire right away this summer. Between classes, workouts and now with practice I don’t think any other freshman has gone through the type of workouts they’ve gone through. They’ve never worked this hard in their lives and they realize that. There’s a whole different level for Joanna. Jo is a perfectionist on and off the court. I can tell after just a few practices that she’s going to do some things very well from us. She’s a 6’1” point guard who sees over people without turning the ball over. She’s a pass first, up-tempo point guard. She’s got a lot to learn and she’s made great strides in what it is going to be like going forward.”
…On Stabresa McDaniel
“We don’t have another player like Bree on the team. She brings a lot of size, skill and versatility to the team. She has a really bright future here at Minnesota and she has brought a very bright personality to our team. She has been an unbelievable addition and we need players like Bree to compete with other Big Ten Teams.
Along with conducting summer camp, what else have you been up to over the summer?
…Minnesota Girls Summer Camps
“Our camps went extremely well. Our numbers at camps went up 59 percent this summer and I thought our camps were the best they have been in five or six years. Danye (Guinn) deserves all the credit for our camps and for getting them organized. There were a lot of things that happened at our camps that haven’t happened in a long time, and Danye did a great job publicizing our program and getting a lot of people really excited about Gopher women’s basketball.”
“We were on the road for 14 days in July and our recruiting class for 2014 is everything that we’ve wanted it to be. We’ve got great kids and great student-athletes that will bring a lot of character to our program.”
“I’ve taken a couple of vacations this summer. I went to Virginia Beach in July with my family. We do a family vacation once every three years where we get the whole family together and go somewhere fun, usually to a beach. I also just got back from Paris. I got to Europe every year and love to travel there more than anywhere in the world. I really feel like I get away when I’m over there. I love the culture and the people. I had a great time and I felt very recharged and refreshed afterward. I’m ready to go and very excited about the team and about the players. We’ve got all the right players on the bus and all in the right seats. I haven’t been this excited for a season in a really long time. All of the players are on the same page and have the same goals and work ethic. I feel like we are where we need to be.”
Are you planning on taking any time to relax before classes start again in the fall?|
“I still have a few rounds of golf to get in. I haven’t golfed as much as I had hoped this summer, probably because I’ve been traveling and recruiting. Now that we have our 2014 class completely done and we got a lot of our work done early in the summer, I do have a few rounds of golf that I will get in before school starts.”